Friday, February 29, 2008

Exciting Stuff!!!!

Hello Everyone,

Despite the fact that it is STILL Winter, we are managing to remain entertained and somewhat busy.
The guys have done THE BEST basement clean up this house has ever seen. We have been on the search for the best set up down there as we use it all throughout the season. In the spring we make our soilblocks(see last post) down there, then in summer and fall we use it to clean and package all our veggies. Like a New Year's resolution, we've made valiant efforts to keep the basement clean but slowly let it slip as we got busier and busier, but this time, it's gonna be different!

Christmas came late this year to BBF, when Mike went to pick up a bunch of items we ordered! It was very exciting to see our new Salad Spinner which holds 5 gallons of leafy greens. Talk about speeding up the salad process!!! We also received some serious amounts of slitted row covers and floating row covers. What's the difference? Slitted row covers allow us to give a bit of extra heat to our plants whereas the floating row covers are more often used to protect our plants from those pesky insects that try to gobble up our veggies(eg. Cucumber beetles and flea beetles). Mike, as our watering captain, bought a water timer(so we can set a time when the water will turn on and off! This is going to be our morning saviour as those early morning watering were somewhat dreadful last year) and a spray bottle to mist our transplants. We got a new bed rake which I am really stoked to use. It is super light and wide so bed prep will hopefully be much easier. Then there were a whole bunch of little tigglies like tomatoe clips, knives, etc that were pretty great too.
Also very exciting, we decided to use organic cotton cloth bags in our CSA to hold veggies like tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, etc. We found last year that we were just using too many plastic bags and weren't satisfied with that. We are also going to use non-toxic, biodegradable plastic bags at the market for now and see how that goes. Would you pay for a reusable cloth bag instead of a plastic bag at your local market?

This coming weekend is my(Katherine) birthday and the guys are up to something but I don't know quite what it is!!! They told me I have to leave for a good long walk. Bailey will be happy!
The following weekend is the ACORN conference that Mike and I went to two years ago. This year some of our friends are part of the workshops so that's pretty exciting. Maybe next year we'll be part of a workshop! It's a pretty nice conference but like most conferences the best part is just seeing old faces, new faces and funny faces! We learn so much just from talking to other growers that sometimes I think that's really why they put these events together!!!

So far we have had a great response for our CSA. Roughly 25 people have signed up and it's only been 2 weeks since we've advertised it. Almost all of last year's members have signed up so that's pretty great. Have any of you ever gone to a farm event? Would you recommend any such fun event to us for our members?

Lastly and probably most importantly, Luke and I accomplished a long awaited task this week. We made the happiest snow fort ever,complete with secret snowball compartments. We then proceeded to ambush Mike when he came home from picking up all our packages!!! He was not expecting it at all but we suspect he's planning his retort quietly and mischievously.

Hope you are all well and keeping the fire in your hearts a burnin'

Yours truly,

Friday, February 22, 2008

BBF Artichokes

The farming season has officially begun, albeit in a very small way. On monday we started our first seeds of the year. Artichokes!

Our miniblocks, so little and cute. Only 3/4" by 3/4". We start many of our seeds in miniblocks for a few reasons. We can fit more of them on our heat mat, which raises the temp of the blocks to optimal germination temperatures and any that don't germinate don't take up as much space. The 100 miniblocks here would take up about 7 times more space if they were in our regular 2 inch blocks.

Our regular stand up soil blocker makes 2" blocks with a small indent for placing seeds. However it can be converted to punch out blocks with 3/4" by 3/4" holes in the top, perfect for recieving the miniblocks.

The regular dibbles and the 3/4" attachment dibbles

Like a little package, the germinated miniblocks fit right in to the larger 2 inch blocks. Check out the eager seed in the bottom left!

Friday, February 15, 2008

An Indoor Week

Well, this week was a little slow, as Kath went to Fredericton to visit her Mami who was visiting, as well as Lori, Tony, Sofie and Sasha(Who's making all sorts of funny noises now, which I got to hear on the phone). Mike went to Fredericton for an Organic Farming workshop on crop rotation(as well as a visit with those mentioned). I chose to stay and hermit the farm with Bailey. Fun was had by all, and we even got an important piece of work done. We finished our CSA info/application pamphlet and sent it out!

For those who would demand an explanation at this time, our 'CSA' is our Community Shared Agriculture program. People pay at the beginning of the season for a weekly bag of fresh, veggies throughout the season. We did it last year with a group of 18 couples/families and it was a lot of fun.

This year some changes we're hoping to make:
-at least double the members(possibly triple)
-more variety of veggies including more peppers, melons, tomatoes, and spinach, as well as hopefully some appearances from others like artichokes, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts which didn't make it last year.
-a couple days where members come out to the farm for a potluck and/or harvest day.

Needless to say this is very exciting for us. The CSA fits very well into all our goals for the farm, especially that of having healthy relationships with our customers and community. Last year, we all noticed that it was a lot more fun harvesting when we knew who was going to be eating the food. It really makes us want to do a good job:)

So far we've had about 10 shares fill up, which we're very happy with. Last year we had a fairly large waiting list, so hopefully it won't be a problem filling up the spots by May. Then we have to do the real work, which is slowly becoming more appealing as the winter goes on.

Hope everyone is keeping toasty warm and dry wherever they are. Here we had freezing rain and wet snow.


Friday, February 08, 2008


Just wanted to post some photos as the most recent pictures on the blog are from July:

These are from our last market of the year, Sept 27th. We continued selling produce to some of our CSA members until the end of Oct.

Our friendly market neighbor Bob. How appropriate that the vegans get placed right next to the hot dog/sausage vendor :)

A few shots of our greenhouse that busted in late October due to some pretty intense winds. All was well though as we ended up rebuilding it quite quickly in a much easier and better way.

For those who may not know, we plowed up another acre of land last fall. Here are some shots of Kath starting us off.

Some cute pictures of Sofie(Kath's niece)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Hello Again Everyone,

We are proud to announce that today, February the 1st, is our 2 year anniversary on Bantry Bay Farm!!! Yahoo, balloons and streamers are flying everywhere! Things have certainly changed since we first arrived back in 2006. We've become 3 instead of 4(Brad is in BC now, but will grace us with his presence in the spring hopefully), grown in field size, focused on better crops, gained a new niece(Sasha), lost friends to bigger and better opportunity and made new ones! All in all it has been a pretty wild ride that all of us are completely in love with.

We recently finished our planting schedule and seed ordering so hold on to your seats while I fill you in:

At the beginning of the year we set up a schedule for ourselves to tell us when we need to plant all our different crops. This includes starting them indoors and getting them ready to be planted outside(there is a process to get them adjusted to the great outdoors called 'hardening off'). This year we will beginning in the middle of February with Artichokes(which Sofie loves!) and finish with Garlic(which I love!) in October. It's a full time task trying to stay on schedule but we did pretty well last year.

Now this is where it gets really exciting! This year we have decided to hone in on really good seed. The last few years we have been more whimsical in our seed selection and chose really cool sounding items instead of reliable ones. We are glad we did because we found some really great varieties but now it is time to find the kind that will produce more consistently.
Some of our oldies but goldies are lemon cucumbers, multi-coloured carrots, and really delicious Blacktail watermelons, which is a dark green round melon with bright red flesh. We also had a light green watermelon with a yellow flesh that was also quite tasty.
Some of our new recruits are super early sugar snap peas. These babies grow only a few feet high but they do it quickly for an early delicious treat. We also welcome a whole new world of cherry tomatoes! We haven't really grown cherry tomatoes before(just our yellow currants) so this will be fun. We are going to have an array of colours(red, orange, yellow, black, green, and maybe even purple!). A few other newbies are cylindrical beets(long and skinny and sooooooooooooooooooooooooo delicious!) and ace, lipstick and apple sweet peppers. We are constantly looking for sweet peppers and eggplants that will grow in this climate. They are finicky little things!

So there you have it folks! These are the day of our lives. What I forgot to mention was that I spent the earlier part of this week in Fredericton with my nieces. They are a riot. Sofie goes to school in mornings so I spent some time with Sasha and man can she smile! She loves to be tickled and lets out the best laugh when you get her going. When Sofie got back from school, we would get whisked away into one of her magical lands where she sells lemonade to customers walking by or go to her friends birthday parties around the block(which is really just in the next room over). She has an incredible imagination that is keeping her, and her family,well entertained.

Hope you are all planning your trips to come visit us,
Love Katherine